The cornerstone of any robust travel program is a strong corporate travel policy. Yet without the proper building blocks to raise compliance among your travelers, even the most comprehensive program may deliver benefits and cost savings that fall short of expectations.
Ensuring compliance is an ongoing responsibility that requires consistent training and a concerted effort to grow engagement. Before asking yourself how you can increase compliance, consider first the main reasons why travelers book out of policy. You should also work with your travel management company (TMC) to identify the areas where your compliance lags and find sustainable ways to support policy enforcement.
Below, we map out five key steps those in charge of booking and managing travel can take in order to boost corporate travel program compliance.
1. Communicate the policy
Communication is fundamental to travel program compliance. For a travel policy to be successful, travelers must first understand the parameters. Sharing the policy through an email announcement may be a starting point, but effective and efficient corporate communication needs to support the policy from start to finish.
Your business leaders are responsible for ensuring that the right education and coaching is provided. Beyond initial training, take the time to introduce your travelers to your online booking tool (OBT) and explain how it saves both time and money. it may take the form of a webinar led by a travel manager or a team meeting where employees can ask questions. Consider building an internal resource library to provide your travelers with easy access to reference materials in order to increase their understanding of the policy.
2. Introduce compliance in onboarding
Including your travel policy in the onboarding process sets the stage for compliant behavior with new hires — both in their introductory phase and beyond. While employees of all seniority levels should be brought up to speed, the earlier you provide new hires with best practices, the easier it is to develop alignment with your policy.
Start by engaging new employees with a variety of ways to learn about travel processes and boundaries. Simply providing them with your travel policy to study may not have the full impact needed to change behavior. Instead, try short-form videos and quizzes to increase learning retention. Walk them through the systems and tools they will be utilizing for future travel. Remember: A successful onboarding experience can provide the ultimate benefit of policy compliance.
3. Ensure employees have support
Noncompliance stems from several factors, ranging from unfamiliarity with the policy to intentional disregard. More often than not though, it’s simply a matter of misinterpretation. The best way for travel managers to avoid this common pitfall is to provide ongoing support.
Depending on the size of your company and travel program, ongoing support may include implementing solutions like a mobile app and self-service tools. Frequent travelers can use their personal devices to check the policy on-the-go, whether at the airport gate or catching a train.
If your travel program lacks the resources for high tech solutions, don’t underestimate the importance of responsiveness. Prompt and personalized service for travelers can increase compliance.
4. Update the policy to reflect needs and trends
No matter how dialed in your travel program is, your policy needs to evolve with business growth and industry changes. Treating it like a static asset, rather than a dynamic document to be updated, may actively work against the goal of achieving compliance.
Build in flexibility to your policy to allow for factors outside your control. Trends in traveler behavior should be addressed in a timely manner, and new regulations or international travel considerations should be accurately reflected. Consider how your business can accommodate the growth in bleisure and the rise of the independent traveler. Above all, keep travelers in the loop during such stages to help them understand the changes, which will further foster compliance.
5. Analyze the data
Every booking, transaction, expense and travel experience produces valuable data points to help you optimize your policy. Prioritizing the collection of this data will provide you with a deeper understanding of traveler compliance and ways to increase it.
Most important to note, data collection can be unwieldy and overwhelming without an established system in place. You also need the analytical means to mine your data for insights. Once those actionable items are extracted, compliance can be fine-tuned and continuously improved — ensuring each decision is tracked, tested and evaluated.
In the fast-paced world of corporate travel, compliance is a moving target that can be difficult to track and increase without a trusted travel partner for support. Contact us to learn more about the benefits we can deliver for your travel program and policy compliance needs.